Save Kent Memorial Library- Questions to Ask Ourselves by Williamhosley


									                   Questions to Ask About Building a New Library in Suffield

In regards to Suffield‟s proposed $8 million bonding for a new Library – The Town
needs a project that we can all come together on and Bridge Street School is not it.

When driving past the library this fall I noticed a single person sitting outside on the
sunny south side of the closed library with her laptop open and she was working away. I
thought to myself - do we need a library or just a wireless connection?

Ask ourselves this:

Are we in the Digital age - the age of an emerging technology?

This week Barnes and Noble (B&N) announced a 78% increase in online holiday season
sales for 2010 vs. 2009; while Barnes and Noble in store sales were only up 10%.

“Of course, we knew that the NOOK was a bestseller for Barnes & Noble. The company issued a release following the Christmas
holiday announcing that the line of NOOK eReading devices was the book retailer‟s “biggest best selling” product of all time, with
millions of devices sold. And the company said that it sells more digital books than physical books on its website. B&N said today
that strong device sales helped drive eBook content sales that have significantly exceeded forecasts. Barnes & comparable
sales increased 78% compared to last year‟s holiday selling season. The company‟s CEO William Lynch said that 60% of NOOK
color owners are new customers of the Barnes & Noble digital bookstore. And total sales at Barnes & came in at $228.5
million, an increase of 67% as compared to the period a year ago.”

Barnes and Noble (B&N) biggest competitor is Borders. The Borders chain is
considering filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and restructuring. Why is one company
growing and one dying? B&N sold 1.5 million Nooks in 2009 and estimates say they
sold 3 million in 2010.

B&N invested in the “Nook” its digital reader, while Border‟s “Kobo” was introduced
late to the game and could not keep up. B&N stock is priced at $16 a share while Borders
is 0.86 cents.

One company embraced the digital age one did not.

Netflix‟s stock has gone from $48 at the beginning of the year to $179 at the end of the
year because they made a quick change from mail deliveries to instant streaming to TV,
game systems, Bluray, and the computer. Netflix‟s CEO Reed Hastings was named
Fortune Magazine‟s 2010 businessman of the year for his efforts. Blockbuster on the
other hand, like Borders, came late to the game as Netflix became the preferred method
of delivery. Blockbuster is currently valued at 12 cents a share.

What we can learn from this is we do not want to be the ones changing our system to
keep up with other. A nicely designed building that fits the landscape of Suffield would
be the model all other towns crave. It is time for Suffield to be a leader, not a follower.

One company embraced the digital age (remember when you laughed at Netflix) the
other will soon be gone.
Some of us may remember going to Strawberry‟s Records or Tower Record to get our
music; try to explain that to your child today (or 8 tracks, cassettes, vinyl or in the near
future - CD‟s!). Apple‟s iTunes helped bankrupt these businesses. So now you can get
any music anytime, any where, and with any device we want. Apple‟s stock by the way
went from $80 to $330 in the last two years.

Three billion iTunes were downloaded in 2009! That was 25% of all the music sold in
the US ( Wal-Mart was second with only 14%) One can only image what happened in
2010. Did you did buy any music CD‟s for Christmas?
Why does Suffield still wish to stuff a building full of old outdated books?

One business embraced the digital age, the other businesses are gone.

What about Amazon and its “Kindle”? Amazon planned to sell 8 million Kindles in
2010. How many of us order books on Amazon? How can you beat it? Used books
shipped right to you most for under $6! Why does Suffield still wish to stuff a building
full of old outdated books, when what you need can be yours digitally in moments or
fedexed to you the next day.

Amazon built its entire business on the digital age.

When is the last time you have use a paper map instead of your GPS, which is now on
your smartphone so you do not need a separate GPS. Our kids ask us questions then text
KGB for the answer to be sure we got it right. you need can be yours digitally in
moments or fedexed to you the next day.

Why did Cushing Academy?

“From stacks to flat screens”

Cushing became a pioneer with its move.

In 1994, Suffield Academy required all students to have laptops, the first prep school in
the country to do so. The Town of Suffield needs to take such bold steps. Why not
provide us incoming freshman at the High School with a laptop? Most of my middle
school daughter‟s textbooks are online; the school does not let them take the textbooks
home for fever of damage.

Suffield Academy in 1994 set the trend for others to follow and they all have.
So while the world embraces the Digital Age we are presented with Brick and Mortar
ideas that are the same ideas of the past. We as citizens need to ask ourselves are we
embracing the new or are we stuck in the past.

Our Town of Suffield is the envy of many other towns. We have wonderful citizens who
are very involved in all aspects of life. We have great schools. We have great groups
such as the Girl Scouts, Brownies, Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts, Churches, SFES, Friends of
Suffield, Senior Citizens, Emergency Aid, SVAA Ambulance, Police, Soccer Club, LAX
Club, Garden Club, etc etc etc. We truly have a Norman Rockwell town with one of the
most unique “Main Streets” in New England. We have architecture from 1700 right up to
1970 on our wonderful Main Street! As the former cratout of the Wadsworth stated
“Someone can get off a plane a Bradley Field

Although our property values have declined in this recession, our property values have
not declined as much as other communities. The reason our property values have not
declined as steeply maybe that people are still willing pay a premium to move To

Yet we as the Town of Suffield have our concerns:

Our unfunded liability for non pension benefits (OPEB) of town employees is estimated
by an accounting firm to be in the range of $4,000,000 - $7,700,000. We are setting aside
funds each year to offset this but the majority of this liability is unfunded at this time yet
it is going to have to be paid in the future.

Does anyone think McAllister School is going to last thirty more years? What will the
replacement or remodeling cost be? The High School was $40 million plus.

Does anyone wondered why we do not have our own little league fields (thank you
Christian Family for letting us use your land!), how long can this go on.

When will the State of Connecticut or the State of Massachusetts force or mandate
Suffield to sewer its side of Lake Congamond? Southwick has already sewered its side.
What will this cost?

The infrastructure in our town needs immediate attention: roads, drainage, and buildings
all need immediate attention.

So how should Suffield react in these times? Do we do nothing now because future
liabilities and cost continue to grow? Or do we do what has been suggested just less than
eighteen months ago and voted down by 60 plus percent of the town (the largest
referendum turn out in anyone memory?

For those that state we need a bright clean ADA compliant space for use as a
library/media/infant/young adult/ gathering space I would say we already have a
wonderful such place. It is bright and airy and open and clean – it is the current high
school media/library. It is a beautiful large space and all of us should go see it.
Unfortunately it is only open 185 days a year from 7 am – 3 pm during the school year.
Why not open this area all day and night every night and weekends. It is has wonderful
comfy chairs and wireless and computers and quite areas. Why do we not turn it into
multi use facilities for immediate use instead of waiting to build? It has a rear entrance
and parking. More parking then the current library and it is already ADA approved. And
then immediately thin out the KML, it was never design to hold so many books. Take
down many of the stacks and open up the spaces.

As for projects going forward, I suggest we need to look at our town in a different way.
We need to look at our town from 20,000 feet in the air. We are a town of two sides –
East and West. Both sides pay the same mill rate on taxes yet much of the services are in
the East. How is that fair to those in the West? We built our Police Station near the
geographical center of our Town, we built Spaulding School near the geographical center
of our Town and we built our new high school near the geographical center of our Town.
Why did we build these there? Perhaps because it makes the most sense?

Just as we need to look at the Town from above in a new way, we need to look at the
towns library needs in a new way. The very dedicated, hard working library supporters
continue to propose a single purpose building located on a postage stamp lot with limited
parking. We need to look at this differently, just as Netflix did and Blockbusters did not,
or how Apple did and Tower Records did not. Winston Churchill said “There is no use
saying „We are doing our best‟, you have got to do what is necessary.” We have to seize
this opportunity and do not agree with the well meaning library committee, we need do
what is necessary for our future.

We need to do something to help maintain and improve our Town. Do projects that help
increase our decreasing property values. Do projects that are multi-use, multi-
generational, that have 365 days a year access (not like school buildings that are used
about 200 days a year), projects that add value to all citizens of our Town and that make
outsides say “Boy, that Town of Suffield really did something truly special, we should
move there.”

Here is a suggestion of long range proposal too be done over several years:

* – Purchase the Kogut‟s Nursery property at 1012 Mountain Road over one hundred and
fifty seven acres. (across the street from Spaulding School – you probably parked there
for the fireman‟s carnival another wonderful Suffield tradition and a great organization).
It is centrally located and one of the last large parcels in Town. By the way for full
disclosure – Kogut‟s Nursery was once a EPA superfund site EPA# CT0001491596 Price for this property is estimated to be $2 million to
$4 million. We need to have the best land acquisition specialists help purchase this for
the town; these land acquisition specialists are the farm families in our great town such as
the Christian‟s, Markowski‟s, Bielonko‟s, Kent‟s, Vincent‟s and many others that should
be consulted to help purchase this farm.
*– After purchasing these 150 acres set up a central campus for our town, much like a
college campus. From the High School and future Agriculture Building on Sheldon one
can walk safely thru campus, thru Bruce Park on campus; thru Spaulding‟s Fields and
School on campus, to the Police Station on campus and safely across the street to the new
campus one hundred and fifty acres of campus for future growth. We can install a safe
cross walk with traffic light on Mountain Road at first and reduce the speed limit.

* – Set up the infrastructure for the future growth. The sewer line already runs to the
High School, tee off the Sheldon intersection and run all the utilities underground to the
new campus. Tie in the Police station and Spaulding school.

* – We build sidewalks (a nice wide one like a bike path) from the Middle School to the
Police station along Mountain Road and then tee off with a separate sidewalk from
Mountain to the High School on Sheldon (How many of us have seen kids walking on
Sheldon near the VFW, boy is it dangerous walking on Sheldon there). Also, build a
sidewalk on the west side from 187 to the police station.

*– Agree that all future Town buildings should consider being built on this campus
setting on Mountain Road. If you have ever been to Stafford‟s complex you can see that
Stafford has their Elementary, Middle, High School, School Administration, and Town
Library all in one vast area. Stafford also considered a senior center in their campus to
promote the intergeneration possibilities of seniors reading and working with elementary
children or monitoring after school children of all ages.

* – Purchase the ten acre parcel just west of Spaulding School near the soccer field which
currently is for sale (It has a tobacco barn and two run down boarding houses on it)

* – All that one hundred and fifty acres of land of Kogut‟s Nursery will allow for
adequate facilities for all sports (soccer, baseball, softball, running, mountain bike riding,
hiking etc) and with adequate parking (not a library with only limited parking for 30 – 40

* – Let us build a community center that is truly for all citizens. A community center that
will only help enhance the value of our property and our lives for years to come. A multi
use community center. A community center that we can use 365 days a year (imagine a
key system reading your thumb print to open – biometric valuation or thumb print
authentication). A community center that features space where students can gather, fully
wireless, digital libraries, retail spaces (paying rent) for coffee shops, Subway, Scoop
Dejour, a 24 hour gym, yoga rooms, dance rooms, rock climbing walls, a senior center,
and yes a pool. Estimates to build such a center range from 20 million up to the sky is
the limit.

While collecting my thoughts, all I keep thinking about is the scene in “Back to the
Future” where Michael J. Fox sees his dad buying an “Edsel” in 1960. The car that Ford
made from 1958 until 1960 and become the joke for it early extinction. The name "Edsel"
has since become synonymous with failure. Michael J. Fox‟s character was thinking to
himself “my dad was the last person to buy an “Edsel”.

We are thinking about bonding $8,000,000 at about an interest rate of 5% a year or about
$400,000 of interest payments in the first year. If the Town of Suffield used that
$400,000 to purchase Amazon‟s “Kindle 3G Wireless” for $189 each instead of paying
interest, one could get about 2,100 Kindles; nearly one for every public school student in
town. Or maybe use the funds to purchase laptops for each incoming high school

Building just a library on the Bridge Street School lot with its limited parking and single
purpose will have our children looking back on us thinking “our parents were the last
town to build just a library, what were they thinking in 2011.”

“The pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity. The optimist sees the opportunity in
every difficulty.” Winston Churchill


Brendan Begley
Suffield, CT

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